Noel Blake's team to face Denmark at the Amex Stadium.
England v Denmark
An U19 International Match
7.30pm, Thursday 10 November 2011
American Express Community Stadium, Brighton & Hove Albion FC
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Brighton & Hove Albion’s brand new American Express Community Stadium will get its first taste of international football when England U19s meet Denmark in a friendly on Thursday 10 November.
The game will be England’s first on home soil since February and comes on the back of next month’s mini-tournament in France which sees Noel Blake’s young charges testing their mettle against some of Europe’s finest youth development teams in France, Portugal and Ukraine.
“I haven’t been to the new stadium myself but The FA’s Club England set-up thought it was very impressive when they visited recently and it looks superb from the games I’ve seen on TV, so our youngsters will relish playing there I’m sure,” said Blake of the Seagulls' new home.
Blake has close ties with the South Coast having made over 140 appearances for Portsmouth: “I can still remember running out at the Goldstone Ground for Pompey and it was a tight little stadium with a decent atmosphere.
“I’m really pleased to see Brighton progressing though. They’ve had to wait a few years for the new stadium and it’s been a tough time for all concerned I’m sure but they seem to be heading in the right direction now.”
Blake is also a tutor on The FA’s UEFA Pro Licence course and has fond memories of current Seagulls boss, Gus Poyet, coming through the system: “I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Gus, he’s a really nice guy and was very eager to learn,” recalled Blake.
“His record at Brighton speaks for itself. They were promoted as champions in his first year in charge and they’ve continued that good form into the Championship this season so Gus has obviously created a good atmosphere down there and it’s great to see.”
Poyet also has his own ties with England’s youth development system after teenage son, Diego, helped captain England U16s to yet another title winning year in annual Home Nation’s tournament, the Victory Shield.
England U19s also have important tournament action on the horizon themselves and head over to France in October for a four nations competition that will help Blake’s team prepare for their 2012 European Championship qualifying campaign.
“England are seeded for the Euros this season so we enter at next year’s Elite stage of qualification with the main tournament taking place in Estonia next summer,” explained Blake.
“We’ll prepare for that with a small tournament against France, Ukraine and Portugal next month which will be a real test for our youngsters and will be good experience against quality opposition.”
And Blake believes that the tough games will continue when the Denmark date rolls around in November: “They got to the Semi-Finals of the U17 Euros last season and they’ll be looking to replicate that form in their older age groups.
“Denmark is certainly re-emerging as a youth development nation in football and it should make for a decent game at Brighton in November.”